On-campus vs Off-campus Housing at RIT

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

This is an important debate for new students and especially those who aren’t from the Rochester area. There are so many factors and facilities that play a role while finalizing the housing. As someone who has lived both on and off campus here, I feel my perspective can help you out a little. So here are key factors and comparisons of how the options defer.

First thing, what do I describe as on-campus? Any housing communities owned by RIT, whether on campus (Riverknoll, Colony Manor, Perkins Green, Greek Housing, Residence Halls) or situated few miles away from RIT (there are two in this case which is The Racquet Club and RIT Inn). Also, there are two other privately owned communities on the RIT campus. The rest of the housing options I mention in this blog are off-campus accommodations.

Now that we have outlined the terminology, let’s jump to different factors. It always starts with the cost. Rent for the on-campus resident halls and apartments range from $500-$1000/month per person. You can check the rates for individual options here. It’s difficult to draw a line for off-campus options, but I will say you will generally find this between $300-$700/month per person.

Next thing that follows is the privacy – shared or private bedroom. You will find both options at both the places but off-campus tends to be cheaper for both the options. You will also need to consider the cost of transportation. For some cases, with transportation costs, it might cost same as on-campus.

So that brings us to the commute factor. All the on-campus options have access to the RIT Shuttle services, which run from 7ish am till 1:30ish am. Some of the off-campus options are connected to RIT through the city bus transport or by their own private bus to RIT. If you have our own car, off-campus options get much better. Public city bus transport costs $1 for each trip regardless of the distance.

Furnished vs unfurnished – Of course, furnished ones will be on the pricer side. It will be cheaper to furnish on your own than paying that extra money every month for a furnished option. If it’s off-campus, unfurnished is more idea and cheaper.

Well, the last one is quite abstract – amenities. If you are living on-campus all the RIT resources are accessible all the time. Off-campus apartment communities will have some kind of amenities, but, if it’s a private house, there won’t be any. For more resources, you will have to come to the campus.

From my experiences, I feel off-campus is cheaper and a good option if you have your own car or if you are okay with the commute time. On-campus is more convenient for people who prefer better & quicker access to the campus, not plan on having a car or aren’t used to the type of weather Rochester has.

Also, I would like to add how to go house hunting. For on-campus options, you can check here. For off-campus options, it will be best to join RIT Housing group on Facebook. Once you have shortlisted options based on your preferences, you can proceed with the application. In some cases, you will need to find your own roommates, which, you can find on the Facebook group mentioned here. The best time to finalize housing is June & July for Fall semester and November-December for Spring semester.

Thank you for reading through this and I hope this article provided a better outlook on the dilemma. You can leave a message here if you have more questions.

You Paid Your Deposit: Now What?

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

If you have already paid the deposit, congratulations! Your spot in your program at RIT is guaranteed. But now what do you need to do next? Here are some steps that you need to follow.

First you’ll get a chance to create your personal RIT computer account. It’s a student Gmail account that will become your preferred email address in the school system. And this Gmail account will help you get all sorts of information from New Student Orientation, Student Financial Services, Housing Operations, Financial Aid & Scholarships, and academic departments, etc. You could visit Google Apps at RIT to access your account.

All new incoming students attending RIT are required to submit the Health History Form and Immunization Record via the Student Health Center Portal at least 30 days before classes begin. And again, you will need your RIT Gmail account to login to the system. For more information, please visit: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/studenthealth/about/forms.

You’ll also have to submit your final official transcript once you finish all your current classes. If you are attending or have attended a school in the U.S., you should have the registrar to send your transcript to you following the instructions and then you can mail it directly to RIT’s Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. If you are from an International school, an official degree certificate in both English and the original language with the transcripts is required. And you may have this transcript and degree certificate forwarded directly to the office as soon as you have completed your undergraduate study.

If you are an international student, you need to provide additional documents to apply for a student visa. you’ll then need an original bank statement showing the amount available for their education, as well as a letter of support from the person owning the assets (if the funds are not in the student’s name) to RIT. More details can be found via this link: https://www.rit.edu/emcs/ptgrad/pdfs/International_student_visa_info.pdf

You will be encouraged to attend New Student orientations: graduate orientation and International orientation. Activities and further details can be found via the links. You’ll just need your RIT username and password to log in and complete the registration information. Orientations really do help set the tone for your transition into the next level of your academic career.

And if you are interested in finding housing (both on and off campus) before coming to school, the international student services have provided some good resources on their website, which could also be helpful to the domestic students. And the link is here: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/iss/life-at-rit/housing

The very last step before you start your school will be to pay your bills and authorize access to RIT eServices. Usually, the bill will be generated during the beginning of July, and you’ll get different payment options. You may visit Student Financial Services for more information. And there are also various types of graduate student funding that you could find online, including graduate scholarships, graduate assistantship, campus jobs, cooperative education, and educational loans, etc. Check out this website for more info: http://www.rit.edu/emcs/ptgrad/apply/costs-funding

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you will find this information helpful and good luck with your preparations for new semester at RIT!

#myRITstory – Syed Sajjad Haider

Program: Electrical Engineering MS, expected graduation fall 2019

From: Islamabad, Pakistan

Syed learned about RIT through his local EducationUSA Advising Center, where he was researching prospective graduate programs in robotics and artificial intelligence. His search for the perfect program and research opportunities led him to RIT’s Engineering and Computing programs. He ultimately chose RIT because of its strong emphasis on Co-Operative Education. (You can read more about RIT’s Co-op program online.)

In July Syed will begin a six month co-op placement at Abiomed in Boston, Massachusetts. He was hired as Lifecycle Electrical Engineer and will work on the design and analysis of testing automation for various Abiomed consumer products.

Says Syed about his search for a co-op position – “I found a Co-Op in Boston, MA through the Handshake platform RIT just introduced. All students in RIT are strongly encouraged to attend the two career fairs organized by RIT each year and to apply for various opportunities on the handshake platform. The Office of Career Services at RIT is very helpful and useful. I got my Resume reviewed from them and also participated in a mock interview event. These small things really help you prepare for the real interview.”

Syed will return to RIT in January 2019 to complete his MS program. In addition to his coursework and extracurricular activities, Syed has also worked part-time for RIT Dining and for RIT’s Reporter Magazine as a staff photographer.

 

 

Bird’s eye view of on-campus employment opportunities

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

As a student, managing your finances can be an arduous task at the very least. International students have their work cut out when it comes to this. To be honest, we all love that little extra inflow of cash to help pay for housing or just simply to buy that fancy pair of shoes which all our friends rave about. Whatever the case maybe – RIT has got you covered!

RIT is unique in a way that students essentially are one of the most important cogs in the wheel that they paid for. Almost all departments and offices employ student workers to ensure smooth operation. There are over 9,000 on-campus jobs to be found and anyone who wants one does not have to look far. One of biggest department that is run almost entirely by student employees is the dining services department. RIT has a plethora of on-campus dining options and all of them require student workers. Just some of the dining options include Gracies, Salsaritas, Crossroads, Ritz, Ctrl-Alt-Deli and so on.

Gracies Dining Hall

Roles may involve cutting and slicing of meat and veggies, servicing the dishwasher, cooking, maintenance and upkeep or that of a cashier. FMS or Facilities Management Services is another department that hires a lot of student workers. Responsibilities here include mostly everything related to building maintenance like inspecting doors and windows, replacing faulty light bulbs or checking if locks work the way they should. There are loads of other jobs like lab assistants, front desk assistants and so on. The list is endless.

How do you find such jobs? While you can look and apply for jobs on the RIT job portal

Crossroads

Handshake (which is obviously a great source), there are many jobs which are not explicitly advertised. The mantra to find that job is really simple enough – go and ask in person! I have seen so many of my friends getting a job from the unlikeliest of places on campus because they went ahead and asked about it directly.

 

Graduate Assistantships are also a great way to earn money which is more technically and academically oriented. While these positions are not as many as the other options many students do get offered the positions of a Research or a Teaching Assistant. A paid RA position depends upon your graduate advisor, his funding status and your area of interest. TA positions are always paid and they require you to be in the right place at the right time. In all the engineering departments, you can TA an undergraduate course if there is an availability and you have a sufficient background in that area. Talking to a Professor of a course you would like to TA for would be a good idea in this case. The other way to grab a TA position is having taken a course prior, building a solid background in it and informing the instructor you are interested if there is an availability.

All in all, RIT is a place where you can always earn a little pocket money if you need to and is one of things I admire about my University. So buckle in and enjoy your time here – it is a great place to be!

#myRITstory – Venkatesh Thimma Dhinakaran

Venkatesh, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

Program: Software Engineering MS, expected graduation May 2019

From: Chennai, India

Venkatesh is a Graduate Assistant in his department, Software Engineering, where he works under Dr. Pradeep Kumar Murukannaiah. In this position he has conducted research and published a paper entitled “App Review Analysis via Avtive Learning, reducing the supervision effort without compromising the accuracy.”  The paper has been accepted into the 2018 IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference and the pair will present their findings in August at the event in Banff, Canada.

Says Venkatesh about his work:

“I am doing a thesis under this professor. My work involves machine learning techniques such as supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and implementing these strategies using Python programming language as required for the research conducted. This job gives my hourly pay as well as 55% scholarship for tuition. I work 10 hours per week in this job.”

At RIT Venkatesh also works a part-time job in the Brick City Cafe and lives lives off-campus (first at Crittenden Way Apartments and currently in Riverknoll Apartments.) When asked about his RIT experience, Venkatesh said, “RIT is a very research oriented institution, be prepared to learn a lot. The campus is huge and beautiful. Everyone can easily find something that they like to do on campus apart from studies too, since there are that many clubs and events going on all the time.”

Before Venkatesh arrived on campus he made friends and found roommates through social media channels. (Admitted to an RIT program for Fall 2018? Join our Admitted Student Facebook Page and WhatsApp group to connect!)

Time to Plan Your Summer Vacation!

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

With warmer weather fast approaching, summer is just around the corner. While preparing for the end of the semester final exams, students must also be thinking about plans for the summer. Would you like to fill your summer with travel? Or you’d like to take some summer courses to get some extra credit? Or maybe use it to gain some internship or job experience? Summer at RIT is 12 weeks long, and I’m here to give you some suggestions on how to make a fun and meaningful summer plan.

If you want to take some classes during the summer, RIT offers a wide range of subjects both on-campus and online, which means you can also go home and take the courses online. Studying abroad during the summer is also an exciting opportunity for some students. I personally think it’s the best time to experience a new country or place with new outlooks, customs and activities. You may check out Summer @ RIT and RIT Global for more information.

And if you are looking forward to working for the summer, the student employment office has some notes for you:

Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to work up to 40 hours per week during summer semester if the following criteria are met:

Must be matriculated, and registered full-time status Spring Semester AND at least one of the following:

  • Must be registered for at least 4 credit hours for summer session
  • Are registered for 0 credit hours for summer, but are registered for at least 3 credit hours for fall
  • Are registered for at least 3 credit hours for both summer and fall
  • Are registered for 0 credits for continuation of thesis for summer and/or fall that can be verified via STARS

And if you are doing a co-op program, you must be registered for co-op for summer session. Please check out the student employment office website for more information.

For those of you who are staying in Greater Rochester area, and who happen to be interested in some summer outdoor or indoor activities, here are some suggestions for you:

  • Roseland Water Park – a water park facilitated with a giant wave pool, adventure river, splash factory, tube slides and body slides, located in Canandaigua, NY.
  • Roseland Wake Park – the only Cable Wake Park system in the Northeast, with thrilling water board sports.
  • Corn Hill Arts Festival – a festival that exhibits an array of beautifully handcrafted art and crafts from over 300 artists from across the US and Canada.
  • Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival – a music festival that stages a series of concert performances by outstanding local musicians.
  • The Taste of Rochester – a food festival that is designed to designed to get people and food purveyors together to get to know each other.

In addition, there are also bunch different activities listed on Rochester Events, make sure to check their website and plan ahead of time!

Hopefully, I have given you some idea about your summer vacation, if you still don’t have any plan in your mind. As for me, I will be traveling for a bit at the beginning of the break, and then heading to New York City to work for 10 weeks as a multi-media designer. I am super excited about the traveling and my internship opportunity, and I also hope that you could come up with an awesome plan to make the most of your summer!

MS Computer Science: Bridge courses

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

Every year, one of the most common topics that is on an incoming MS-CS student’s mind at RIT is bridge courses. These are a set of three graduate level courses that the CS department requires every student to be well-versed with before proceeding with other graduate courses. They “bridge” the gap in knowledge.

These courses are in place because the department probably saw that a number of CS graduate students were not up to the mark when it came to fundamental programming skills. Nowadays, almost every admitted MS-CS student who has not obtained an undergraduate CS degree from a US university is required to complete these bridge courses.

The three courses are “Advanced Object Oriented Programming (using Java)”, “Computational Problem Solving (using Python)”, and “Foundations of Computer Science Theory”. If a student is assigned to any or all of these courses, the only way to let the department know that they already possess the technical skills offered in the course(s) is by taking up and passing the corresponding bridge waiver exams successfully. So if a student feels that they were assigned a particular course by mistake, they must take and pass the waiver exam(s).

These waiver exams are held on the day of the department orientation, are of 1 hour each in duration, and cover all the topics that would be taught in the course itself. The syllabus and timing of each exam can be found at https://cs.rit.edu/orientation/bridgeexams. The exams would be a combination of multiple-choice, short answer, medium answer, and long answer questions. They would test a student’s knowledge on the subject thoroughly.

I had a non-CS background coming in to the CS grad program here so I needed the bridge courses. In my experience, most students who took up the bridge courses felt like they benefited from the practice they got by solving the weekly assignments and studying for the midterms. The coursework of these courses definitely helped in my interview process.

Many incoming students would hear that these bridge courses are extremely difficult to clear. Although I did not take up the option of sitting for the waiver exams, I believe that one of the major reasons why a small number of students clear the waiver exams is because of the clear gap in knowledge and maybe the fact that most students end up either taking the waiver exams lightly or do not even turn up for them.

Every incoming student would love to clear one or more waivers since that would mean saving on the cost of those courses. However, I feel that by trying to clear all three in one go, students end up not doing well enough in any. Unless a student is extremely confident in their abilities and knowledge of a particular bridge course, I would honestly recommend students to pick and choose their strongest course and put all their efforts into clearing that.

The ‘American’ life: In the eyes of an international student

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS Student 

What is the American life? I used to think it was utopia on Earth – the ever illusive ‘good life’. The kind of place where you turn off the lights and wake up to a perfect morning where all your problems have magically disappeared. Wading through the deceptively clear waters of a semester here has led me to realize how wrong I was. Stick around till the end while I describe an intriguing process of self-discovery and introspection.

It was on a freakishly cold day when I arrived in the land of the free and home of the brave. Being used to the other extreme of the temperature scale it was a surreal experience for someone who had never seen snow before. A 5 minute wait for a cab out in the open to take me to my apartment felt like ages. But I was still completely oblivious to what was in store for me. My heart kept telling me that the proverbial bling life was still to come.

Reaching my apartment, I was excited to meet the new roommates with whom I would be spending the winter with. I was starving after an exhausting journey but they said it would be another couple hours before food would be made. Without knowing how to get around town, I snacked on leftovers from my journey. Tired as I was, I had to clean up my room before I could get any kind of respite as the the guy from whom I subleased it left it in a mess. In a few days, reality dawned on me. Pampered since childhood with never having to worry about my own well-being for a second, I had to look after everything now. Some days were bearable while some days were not. Coming home weary-eyed and zoned out after a long day, you suddenly remember that it was your day to cook or do the dishes and you have an assignment due the next day which is still incomplete.

A picture worth a thousand words.

But as all dark clouds have a silver-lining, my story had one too. I had some of the most wonderful professors who guided me through every step of the way. Sometimes, we would engage in enriching conversations about my progress that not only helped me to focus on areas I was weak in but also develop a new perspective of the course. At times when I needed to blow off some steam, I would just drive off into the pristine countryside. Life is way different in smaller towns and ranches and feeling those vibes were just what I needed to recharge my batteries.

So, what exactly is the American life? Is it having all you ever wanted at your fingertips? Is it the peace of mind to never break a sweat about anything? To me it is the freedom to carve your own fate and be the master of your own destiny. The power to make your own choices and the undying spirit to see it through no matter the sacrifices. The unwavering grit to hold on to the values of mutual respect and inclusiveness despite the threats. As the Statue of Liberty says – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”.

 

 

RIT’s Financial Wellness Conference

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

RIT Student Affairs and Student Government have offered a Financial Wellness Conference on April 8th as part of National Financial Literacy Month which has seen participation from a lot of students at RIT. The conference was held to raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy which is one of the most important topic as believed by several millennials. The conference had an interesting concept of holding several sessions which are a 50 min long and students get to choose 3 sessions between 2-5pm. The conference kicked off with a keynote address by retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, John C. Ninfo who shared his thoughts on financial IQ. I choose the three sessions “Track the Flow of Your Money”, “Health Care Benefits 101”, and “Planning for Retirement”. In the first session “Track the Flow of Your Money” we got introduced to how to manage a budget and then also the allocations that need to be made in order to maximize the value of your paycheck. Later, I got to attend the session “Health Care Benefits 101” where the speaker talked about the various health

care options that companies offer to the employees and suggestions for comparing the options and choosing the best one. This session has particularly helpful as I am joining a company soon full time and I need to choose a healthcare plan. Finally, I attended the session “Planning for Retirement” which was about different instruments to save your money in order to plan for your retirement. The speaker spoke about stocks, mutual fund, bonds and several other instruments. In conclusion this was a great conference and is very helpful to students both undergraduate and graduate which will hopefully be conducted for years to come.

Creativity Brings People Together

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

On March 29th, the 13th annual Creative Industry Day was held in the Gordon Field House. The event is an annual event for creatives by creatives, and it features activities such as portfolio reviews, career speakers, and professional networking. As a design major who is wishing to gain some work experience in the creative industry, I took this event as a really great opportunity to meet design professionals and get some valuable feedback on my portfolio, and possibly build some connections that may benefit my future internship or career.

About 70 innovative businesses from various companies have shown up to the event this year, including Google, Capital One, Microsoft, GEICO, as well as many digital design agencies and visual effects firms. At some popular booths, lines formed quickly, and each student got about 10-15 minute to speak with the experts face to face.

The portfolio reviews and networking event ran from 1 to 6 PM, and I got to talk to 5 different companies in total. That number might sound small, but I valued every single opportunity and believed that I have got the most out of this great event. And due to the time limit, I highly recommend that students should do some company research and discover more details about the employers before coming to this event. Lining up in front of popular booths takes a lot of time, and you should make sure the companies on your list are the ones you want to talk to the most. And you should also be prepared to bring a well-developed portfolio (on a laptop or tablet), printed resumes, and other files that you think would be helpful when you are presenting yourself to the employers.

At the end of the event, I received some portfolio reviews that were really helpful and valuable. I have also learned a lot about some types of job opportunities that are suitable for me in the creative industry. One company that I talked to was very interested in my skills and background, and later that day they contacted me on LinkedIn for further discussions on potential job opportunities. Connections are happening! And it feels amazing! So to those students who are interested in coming next year, I 10/10 would recommend it and make sure you do the preparations before you go!

For more information, please visit: https://www.rit.edu/emcs/oce/alumni/creative-industry-day